Synapsi 2014 with Hocico – an experiment report

This is a post from the perspective of me, Ville (the drum guy), on our two gigs in Synapsi with Hocico in August 2014. The diary includes lots of technical stuff, which might be out of the interest-range of many people – all the technical mumbojumbo is therefore written in italic. Unzyme played at Synapsi for the … Read more

Biomechanical pop

Song dissection: After years of ecstasy

One of the early Unzyme songs. When I composed this song, I was really excited about the melody. I think I had gotten really close to my ideal of the perfect melody. I still like the song very much, but production-wise we’ve done a better job on many other songs. Especially now that we’re about … Read more

Song dissection: Another crossing

Another crossing was the first song I wrote for Unzyme. I had just bought new gear – a new microphone, external sound card, monitor headphones and a keyboard controller. Most of these devices have later been replaced by better gear, but I still have the instruments and use them occasionally. Anyway, being excited about the … Read more

Song dissection: Jesus in my trunk

This was one of the earliest Unzyme songs. It started as a jam. We were playing something together with Ville and Mary, and I sung some totally stupid lyrics on top of that. The original, weird Finnish lyrics were something like “Jeesus takakontissa huutaa, ja minä vain ajan.”, which translates to “Jesus is shouting in … Read more

Successful musicians are committed

What separates “mediocre” bands and “successful” bands? By mediocre I mean a band that is not very popular. They might have good songs and all, but they’re not really concentrated on becoming successful. And why would a band want to be successful, and a potential sell-out? Because successful bands can earn a living by doing … Read more

Song dissection: Everything is a lie

This song was written on the piano. I was playing a Pet Shop Boys song, and as usual, I got bored of playing other people’s songs and started composing my own. Composing on the piano is not my usual way of writing music, but this was one of the songs that just kind of played itself. I know that a lot of composers say that the song just came out of nowhere, and I probably means that the process was fluent and painless. Usually writing a song takes many rewrites and goes through many revisions, but this song was relatively easy to write.

Dummy lyrics

Sometimes I sing the initial melody in Finnish with dummy lyrics, and later my bandmates remind me periodically of the silliness of these original placeholder lyrics. In this case the words for the chorus were something like “Viimeisen sillan annan palaa ja se menee aivan sekaisin.” In English it’s something like “I burn the last bridge and it goes mental.”. Doesn’t make sense, but filler lyrics aren’t really meant to. Quite often, though, portions of these dummy lyrics end up in the final version, because the words usually suit the notes so well that it’s difficult to find replacement words.

We’re told what to want

I’ve been very interested in how we end up wanting what we want. Needs are not born in a vacuum. Most people are not interested in how needs are created, so they can be led more easily. Every humane weakness is an opportunity to make money, and all those weaknesses are constantly being abused. I’m totally in this game myself, and cannot say that I’m free of all wanting (quite the opposite, actually), but I like to know more about the mechanics behind the needs. There always seems to be somebody, who is above the law, or has found a way to operate within the law, to control other people. They may not have total control over people, but they have something everybody wants. Think about oil companies, for example. We depend heavily on them, and the only choice seems to be whether we use their products or not. And even if we choose not to, they seem to profit anyway, because the alternatives depend on them as well. Their invisible tentacles are everywhere.

There is no easy way to step out of all “conspiracies” or “company control”, and I find it equally interesting to think about how one gains power and becomes a player. The song is about realizing that an average person is just a pawn, and in order to de-pawn oneself, all common values and laws must be denied. Power is not cheap, if you value moral. But what if the values you respect, have been designed to keep you under control? There are two songs on Brainforest that deal with this subject, “Everything is a lie” and “Terracentric”.

We might be happy even if we live inside The Matrix.

Alternate version?

Everything is a lie was recorded at our family cabin in Vesanto, Finland. It was one of the first songs on Brainforest to be finished. I’m still quite happy with how it turned out. The original demo was a bit more dance-oriented and the synth riff that can be heard just before the last chorus, was originally used also as the intro of the song. Ville talked me into starting the song only with the piano, and it was a good decision. I still think that there should be a dance floor version of this song, and we might do a live version with the riff as the intro. I think it would work.

Lady Gaga in Helsinki, August 28th, 2012

I (Joona) saw Lady Gaga yesterday in Helsinki (Hartwall Arena). It was probably the best-looking show I’ve ever seen. The closest comparison point for me would be a Pet Shop Boys show. I’ve seen three times, and they come very close, but this was even more epic and over-the-top. It saddens me to say this, because I still think that Pet Shop Boys have far better songs than Lady Gaga, but that’s a whole other story.

With Unzyme, we’ve concentrated on creating a cool light show, and that’s probably why especially the lights of this show caught my eye. In a word, the lights were astonishing. The Born this way ball would be quite boring without the lights. Gaga’s words “You’ve got to be willing to give everything in order to gain what you want” rang in my ears and on the next day, I spent about 800 euros on new lights, among other music-related things. I’ve never been too keen on holding on to money, I’ve always invested it on the band. So far we’ve spent about 25 000 euros, excluding recurring costs.

Now back to the show! One of the highlights was the talking three-dimensional head that flew around the stage. It was quite creepy and awesome. I love all the technology behind the show.

Gaga mentioned Finland many times. The Finnish flag also made an appearance a few times, at the rear of the Gaga-powered motorcycle, for example. Gotta love that motorcycle design, by the way.

I really respect Gaga for writing her own songs, and she is also one hell of a singer. This is repeatedly proven when she sings her songs while playing the piano, and without any other instrument or backing track to lean on to. Of course there could be more variety to songs she plays acoustically, but I know that the show must be pretty strictly scripted in order to pull through smoothly. I’ve seen quite many artists do same shows all over again, playing same songs in the same order, with the same tricks every time. As a fan who sometimes goes to multiple shows during the same tour (not particularly referring to Gaga here, because that would be quite expensive), I’ve found it really disappointing to see things go exactly by the script. I have set it as one of our quality standards, to do something differently on every experiment.

At the end of the show, Gaga picked one member of the audience and picked her up to the stage. “How old are you?” Gaga asked. “18.”, replied the teenager. She was shaking, scared and almost cried. Gaga took her by the hand and walked with her on the platform, while telling her stories about how she started with small audience of three, and slowly gained more and more fans, ending up here, in front of 30 000 people. The teenage girl slowly started to relax and finally they were dancing together to a song. It must have been an unforgettable moment for the girl. I think that the majority of the audience could relate to that girl and were inspired by the event. At least I was. I think that moment alone was well worth the ticket price.

It was a very powerful and inspiring show. I’m looking forward to seeing her again with a new show and with new songs.

Song dissection: Lose your place

Our debut album, Brainforest will soon be 2 years old, and to celebrate that, I (Joona) would like to present you some stories behind the songs.

I will post every song of Brainforest accompanied by a story. The order will be chronological, so the first track is “Lose your place”.

This was one of the earliest tracks to be written for Unzyme, probably the third or fourth song. The initial demo sounds horrible, but the album version is pretty good.

Lose your place as an opening track

From the very beginning I thought that “Another crossing” should be the opening track but Ville and Mary insisted that we should start the record with “Lose your place” or some other energetic song. Later we’ve come to agree that it would’ve probably been a better idea to start the album with another song. On the other hand, we like mistakes.

We got arrested while shooting a video underground

We actually went to shoot a music video for the demo version of this song to an underground tunnel network without permission. We got in, and were able to shoot for some half an hour, and got 12 minutes worth of source material, before the security guys came rumbling in. We didn’t want to run away, because we had only been shooting a video and hadn’t done any harm to the place. In a few minutes, the cops came in to arrest us, and that was our first time to travel in a police car. At the police station, we explained thoroughly what we were doing, and luckily we had video evidence on the camera to prove it, so we didn’t have to spend too much time there, only an hour or so. The owner organization of the tunnels pressed charges against us, as it was their stand procedure. We did apologize and were able to settle things with them, and they gave up the charges. Kids, remember to ask for a permission, if you’re going to shoot a music video in underground tunnels! We certainly learned our lesson, and have since been able to negotiate some really good locations to shoot in (of which we’re about to make an announcement in a couple of weeks).

The lyrics

The lyrics deal with frustration of seeing someone having gained a good position and then living only to keep it, and not getting excited about anything anymore. It’s about maintaining a certain standard of living at the cost of becoming a boring, predictable and stale person. It’s a safe situation, but gives nothing but money in return. For me, it’s alarming if someone wants to give up a night with friends in order to do a good job the next day.

People should be more concerned about doing what they want and need to, instead of worrying about how to avoid the conflict between their desires and what they’re expected to do. Dreams first! This track is a reminder that there is always something to be amazed of. It encourages you to fuck things up! It’s not that dangerous to take the liberties you need to. In fact, it’s dangerous not to.

Booklet photograph

The photograph that is featured on the first page of Brainforest’s booklet, is taken in a temporary nuclear waste storage cave. It’s located right next to the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. This cave is used to store the waste for a few years before it is taken to a permanent storage tunnel called Onkalo.



Double gig arranged by a dog

The story begins in Helsinki. The whole Unzyme personnel were hanging out in the hotel lobby, preparing to play a show at Club Synapsi. Suddenly, a friendly dog appeared from nowhere, followed by his owner, a woman who identified herself as Paula Kontio. Paula asked us what we were doing in Helsinki. We told her … Read more